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About the Tufts University Permanent Art Collection

Established early in the university's existence in the mid-19th century, the Tufts University Permanent Art Collection features portraits of founders, benefactors, and faculty, as well as landscapes that depict the campus's progression over the years. As such, these works of art are an integral part of University history. The University's art collection has expanded since its establishment to include a range of art from antiquity to the present. Moreover, it has grown through the generosity of donors, many of whom have been, or are, trustees who have given gifts that reflect their personal collecting interests. We are fortunate to benefit from the exquisite tastes and exacting standards of our supporters.

The Collection comprises approximately 2,000 works spanning ancient Mediterranean and pre-Hispanic cultures to modern and contemporary painting, sculpture, and 20th century photography. The Tufts collection features 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century paintings by artists such as Eric Aho, Emile Bernard, Elaine De Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, John Frederick Kensett, Gyorgy Kepes, Willard Metcalf, Maude Morgan, Alice Neel, Fairfield Porter, Milton Resnick, John Singer Sargent, Paul Stopforth, Andy Warhol, and Grant Wood. Modern and contemporary sculptures by Dmitri Hadzi, Richard Hunt, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Auguste Rodin, and Frank Stella, among others, are sited in public indoor and outdoor locations across the Medford campus.

A large percentage of the collection is comprised of works on paper, principally prints and photographs. The Collection includes prints by Salvador Dalí, Albrecht Dürer, Max Ernst, Alex Katz, Joan Miró, Sonia Getchoff, Wassily Kandinsky, Sir Howard Hodgkin, Francois Millet, Berthe Morisot, Pablo Picasso, James Rosenquist, and Hale Woodruff, among many others.

Twentieth-century photography is a notable strength of the Tufts Collection. Photographers in the Collection include: Berenice Abbott; Arundel Society Publishers; Lewis Baltz; Cecil Beaton; Edouard Boubat; Manual Alvarez Bravo; Marilyn Bridges; Azel V. Capen; E. Chickering; Robert Doisneau; Gary Duehr; Dr. Harold Edgerton; Elliot Erwitt; Walker Evans; Larry Fink; Lee Fredlander; Ralph Gibson; Charles Giuliano; Frank Gohlke; Sally Gall; Philippe Halsman; Philip Jameson; André Kertesz; Johan Kuus; Danny Lyon; Alen MacWeeney; Joel Meyerowitz; Richard Misrach; Delilah Montoya; Maria Muller; Dorothy Norman; Tod Papageorge; Frank Paulin; Gilles Peres; Rosamund Purcell; Arthur Rothstein; Aaron Siskind; Richard Sobol; Michael Ullman; and Garry Winogrand.

Selected highlights of the University's Collection are offered here as a virtual exhibition to give a sense of its outstanding range.

Albrecht Dürer
(German, 1471-1528)

A German printmaker and watercolor painter, Dürer raised woodcutting, at the time mainly a utilitarian printing process, to an art form. He introduced classical motifs into Northern European art, becoming one of the great figures of the Northern Renaissance. This engraving represents the first use by a major artist of the motif of the Holy Family crossing a river.

Albrecht Dürer, Flight into Egypt, 1503; wood engraving; 11-11/16 x 8-1/4 in.; gift of Steven and Linda Shapiro in Honor of George Fine; 1985.5

Helen Frankenthaler
(American, b. 1928)

A prominent figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement in New York during the 1950s, Frankenthaler developed a method of pouring paint over untreated canvas to allow pigments to soak into the fabric. Her "stain paintings," such as the one shown here, emphasize the luminous and textual effects of her medium.

Helen Frankenthaler, Orange Shapes in Frame, 1964; acrylic on canvas; 94-1/2 x 75-1/4 in.; gift of Placido Arango; 2000.16
 

Andy Warhol
(American, 1936-1986)

The king of Pop Art, and one of the 20th century's most influential creators, Warhol exploited mainstream fascination with celebrity and kitsch by manipulating images of familiar people and objects. He juxtaposed contrasting colors to create bold silk screens, as in this portrait of his friend, the wife of industrialist John Powers.

Andy Warhol, Kimiko Powers, 1972; oil on canvas; 60 x 60 in.; gift of David and Barbara Slater; Image courtesy of Peter Harris; © 2007 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / ARS, New York, 1980.5
 

Sir Howard Hodgkin
(British, b. 1932)

Howard Hodgkin's artwork falls in the realm of the semi-abstract: It seems nonrepresentational at first glance, but it often suggests embedded figures that contain depth and mystery, like the palm tree referenced in the title of this painting. Winner of the 1985 Turner Prize, Hodgkin is sometimes seen as an heir to Henri Matisse.

Sir Howard Hodgkin, Red Palm, ca. 1986; Hand colored lithograph, with watercolor and gouache; 41 x 52 in. Gift of Orna Shulman (J80), 2000.4
 

Auguste Rodin
(French 1840-1917)

Despair/Désespoir', originally called Shade Holding Her Foot, appears to have been first conceived in the early sketches for The Gates of Hell, a massive doorway based on a scene of "The Inferno" from Dante's Divine Comedy. Rodin worked on the commissioned Gates for 37 years and, as the clay models began to dry and crumble over time, he began to preserve the individual figures in plaster and bronze. Despair/Désespoir' is a casting of one such model and was originally purchased in 1902 by the American historian, Henry Adams (grandson of John Quincy Adams and great grandson of John Adams). Adams gifted the sculpture to his niece, Abigail Adams Homans who gave it to her daughter, Helen Homans Gilbert. In 1967 Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert gave the sculpture to Tufts University.

Auguste Rodin, Despair/Désespoir', 1893 (cast in 1902) bronze; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Carl J. Gilbert; AI 45000
 

Richard Misrach

In the 1970s, Misrach helped pioneer the renaissance of color photography and large-scale presentation. Like the photograph shown here, much of his work emphasizes the fragility of beauty and the immanence of destruction in a world where governments test nuclear weapons.

Richard Misrach, Cloudburst, Nuclear Test Site, Nevada, 1987; Dye coupler photograph; Gift of the Artist; 1999.02
 

Emile Bernard
(French, 1886-1941)

A significant member of the late 19th-century post-Impressionist movement, Bernard championed cloisonism, the practice of reducing compositions into areas of color delineated by strong, black contours. His early work, such as this one, plays with techniques of Impressionism and pointillism to suggest, rather than clearly convey, objective views of reality.

Emile Bernard, Le Ribay, 1 Mai, 1886, 1886; oil on canvas; 18-1/2 x 22 in.; gift of Robert and Ruth Remis; 1982.10
 

Alice Neel
(American, 1900-1984)

A participant in the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, Neel completed a painting every six weeks and lost track of the one shown here until it was rediscovered in 1983. Possibly a view from her apartment window at the time, it exemplifies her interest in figurative representations and urban existence.

Alice Neel, Spanish Harlem, 1938; Oil on canvas;
34 x 28 in.; Gift of Richard Neel and Dr. Hartley Neel (M69); 1997.44

 

Isamu Noguchi
(Japanese-American, 1904-1988)

In the late 1920s, the Japanese-American Noguchi received a Guggenheim Award to study sculpture in Paris, India, China, and Japan. Following the example of his mentor, Constantin Brancusi, Noguchi used natural materials and emphasized the coexistence of organic and geometric elements, as in this granite carving.

Isamu Noguchi, Worm Stone (no date); Granite; Gift of Mr. Harold Greisman; 2000.31
 

John Frederick Kensett
(American 1818-1872)

Kensett helped found the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1870, and, as a prominent member of the Hudson River School, was a naturalist who emphasized tone and hue. His later work, like this painting, explores the use of color and light to create depth of perspective, translucence, and stillness.

John Frederick Kensett, Lake George Landscape, Late Summer, 1868; Oil on canvas; 14-1/8 x 30-1/4 in.; Gift of Dr. Arnold Weiss (DDS 1953); 1991.4.1
 

Frank Stella
(American, b. 1936)

Known for his three-dimensional wall-reliefs, American artist Frank Stella creates hybrid objects that are part painting and part sculpture. Since the 1960s, Stella has created innovative works that challenge traditional notions of painting as a two-dimensional surface. In Borgoria, layered geometric forms made from industrial materials juxtapose flatness and depth. The surface has been treated with a sander to create an equivalent of brushstrokes. Part of Stella's Polish Village Series, this work was conceived as a response to the Holocaust. Borgoria is the name of a Polish town whose wooden synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. The work was donated to Tufts in honor of the artist's late father, who was a graduate of the Tufts Medical School. How do the scumbled, metallic surface and asymmetrical geometric shape of this work evoke the Holocaust for you?

Frank Stella, Bogoria, 1971; Aluminum with metal polychrome; Gift of the Artist in Memory of his Father, Dr. Frank Stella, A'31; 1986.016
 

Elaine DeKooning (American, 1920-1989)
Bacchus #20, 1980; acrylic and oil on canvas; 84 x 66 in.; gift of Mr. & Mrs. Nathan Gantcher; 1984.10.3

Elaine DeKooning was a prominent member of the Abstract Expressionist movement in New York during the 1940s and 1950s, where she figured as both a contemporary artist and critic for Art News magazine. Later called The New York School, abstract expressionism involved a variety of artistic techniques and characteristics, where artists were primarily interconnected by a desire to convey intense interior emotion through abstraction. The thick, expressive brushstrokes and torrential confrontation of color and form in DeKooning's Bacchus #20 characterize this style. This painting is part of a larger series inspired by a sculpture DeKooning viewed in the Luxembourg Gardens during her stay in Paris, France from 1976 to 1978.

The exuberant style in which this large canvas by Elaine de Kooning is painted exemplifies the energy of its subject, identified as Bacchus, the ancient Roman god of wine, fertility, and ecstasy. Like her husband, the Abstract Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning was interested in abstracting the human form through gestural mark-making with black lines and the direct application of pure, unmixed paint colors juxtaposed, rather than blended, on the surface. The jittery optical sensation created by cool blues next to warmer greens frame the central triangular gray form and smaller, adjacent forms. De Kooning is noted for saying: "A painting to me is primarily a verb, not a noun, an event first and only secondarily an image."